BlackYak Calvana Hoody | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Down and Insulated Jackets

BlackYak Calvana Hoody | Review

Here’s an option that’ll serve you very well if you’re looking for a reliable insulator to wear in rough conditions

Why We Chose The BlackYak Calvana Hoody: Impressive tech, materials, and performance at a fair price

It’s probably fair to say that BlackYak isn’t that well known a brand in the UK, and this, we think, is quite surprising. That’s first of all considering the fact that the company has been around since 1975 and also because of how impressive their product line is. This item, the Black Yak Calvana Hoody, being a good example of that.

“Designed with the conditions of 5000m climbing in mind”

Anyway, if you’re not already familiar with BlackYak, in a nutshell we’d describe it as the Arc’teryx of South Korea. Both brands design their products for high output mountain use, they both focus heavily on research and development and they both use high quality materials as well.

This is their mid layer offering; a synthetic jacket that sits in their Pali line of clothing designed with the conditions of 5000m climbing in mind.

Who Is The Black Yak Calvana Hoody For?

While they might have made this for expedition-style climbing, we’d say it’s an ideal option for any UK winter mountaineering or hillwalking. It’ll suit those days when the wind is fierce and there’s non-stop rain or sticky snow and you want an insulator under your outer layer (be that a softshell or hardshell) that can continue to function even when everything has eventually soaked through.

The ideal jacket for UK winter mountaineering. Photo: Mike Brindley


The fill is made from 100% Polyester fibres with hollow cores. Its density is rated at 68g/m2. That’s kind of in the middle of the scale when it comes to thickness/warmth. To put it into context, Patagonia’s Macro Puff uses a 135g while the North Face’s Thermoball comes in somewhere below 50.

“The fill is made from 100% Polyester fibres with hollow cores”

The main shell fabric is also made from Polyester. This has a weave with a nice bit of stretch to it and just the right amount of air permeability to allow temperature regulation but without any risk of wind chill. One nice touch is the use of smooth but durable Cordura fabric at the cuffs to add extra durability.

At 468g, it’s not the lightest insulator out there by any means, but it’s not heavy either – you’ll still find some down jackets that are heavier.

BlackYak have used Cordura fabric on the cuffs. Photo: Mike Brindley
The fill is made from 100% Polyester fibres with hollow cores. Photo: Mike Brindley
There's two big zipped handwarmer pockets. Photo: Mike Brindley

Mountaineering-Specific Features

There are a few nifty little features that climbers will like. The helmet-friendly hood, for instance, has an elasticated rim as well as a cinch at the back so it will hold comfortably and reliably. The two big zipped handwarmer pockets can just about be used with a harness on and there’s also a handy zipped internal one along with a mesh storage pocket that’s perfect for storing gloves.

“There are a few nifty little features that climbers will like”

One touch that climbers should like is the rubber rim on the internal lining which is there to help to prevent your jacket riding up and over your harness when you’re reaching up high for a hold.

The fit is fairly athletic so it should fit comfortably on all but very close fitting waterproof shells. There’s also still a bit of room on the inside for a thick base layer and a light fleece


BlackYak’s products, like Arc’teryx’s, are often eye-wateringly expensive but this one actually isn’t too bad. You can currently pick it up from some retailers for £130 which, considering the materials, tech and performance here, is good value in our eyes. For comparison, Jöttnar’s Elvar synthetic jacket, which we were really impressed with when we tested it, is almost double the price (though in fairness it is a touch warmer and lighter).

By the way, there’s a smock version of this with a big kangaroo pocket, plus there’s a hoodless version as well. All are available in men’s and women’s fits.

Tester’s Verdict

John Wells, Outdoors Magic staff

OM staffer John Wells testing the Calvanna’s insulating performance on the Irish coast.

“This really feels like a high quality garment, the trimmings and stitchings are on point and the silky smooth linings have a premium feel to them. It is very much wind resistant and it stands up well to light rain which beads off the outer-fabric and does not accumulate easily. It is a fantastic layering option for snowsport pursuits. This is a great insulator for moderately cold trips, I’d definitely go for some thicker down for Alpine terrain and overnight winter camping, -5 or below. It would also be ideal for a summer and autumn adventure in areas prone to moderate temperature fluctuations and wind.”

BlakYak Calvana Hoody

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